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August 30, 1966 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1966-08-30

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Gatholepistemiad he esiential olle

e Idea

Founders of the "Catholepis-
temad of Michigania" were rath-
er shocked in 1818 when they
discovered their first building
would cost over $3,000. Financial
expectations were somewhat shaky
at the time, and they could not
turn to the legislature for help-
there wasn't any.
Almost 150 years later, the
"Catholepistemiad," now the Uni-
versity of Michigan, faces about
the same problems in attempting
to synthesize a return to what the
founders knew as the relationships
within a college of higher educa-
tion with the structure of a mod-
ern university.
This synthesis they are trying is
called a residential college. Many
modern educators look to it as one
of a number of possible solutions
to the problems caused by the
shear size of students, faculties
and administrative bureaucracies
at mass education universities.
Separate Colleges
From a physical standpoint, the
residential college is a college
separate from the rest sof the
university, where students live and
attend classes just with other
residential college students, ai'd
also have special seminar and
meetings together, even in their
residence hall building.
"The heart of the idea is the
the centering of undergraduate
education in a small community of
k students and teachers who at the
same time have access to the rich
and varied resources of a great
university;" say proponents of the
As one University Regent puts
it, the residential college concept
is an attempt to encourage devel-
opment of the most basic relation-
ships between people; the mutual
benefit that comes from working
and living with other individuals.
Educators feel the great growth
of universities has been at the
expense of the interrelationships
between students and teachers
and even between students and
They see the big university as
too easily the place' where stu-
dents become lost, and faculty
members shut themselves up in
little cubbyholes of increasingly
specialized fields.
So they believe that by actively
encouraging students to meet,
study and socialize with the same
students with whom they go to
class, instead of just other Uni-
versity students, and by openly
encouraging frequent faculty-
student meetings, preferably on
a one-to-one basis, part of the
"small college flavor" like the
University's founders knew and
small colleges still know, can be
brought to, and mixed with the
great advantages of great univer-
The residential college idea is
not really a new concept, for the
University's founders had very
similar ideas. When the University
moved to Ann Arbor in 1837, the
founders showed great concern
about where students should live.
Original plans for the first six
campus buildings included plans
for two dormitories that would'
contain classrooms. In fact, this
was apparently the established
procedures for American universi-
ties of the time.
At this point the crucial factor
-finances-made itself felt. The
University had many financial
worries in its early years which
even threatened to close it. For
instance, the collapse of two Ann
Arbor' banks in 1838 brought the
University close to ruin.

However, at this time the Uni-
versity received what turned out
to be a gift of $100,000 from the
state legislature (which came into
being with the state in ,837). Al-
though this was the only state
appropriation the University re-
ceived for quite a while, it helped
establish a national pattern of
state aid to education.
The University's problems were
far from solved, however. The
first University President, Henry
Tappan, decided an earlier Uni-
versity concept of the gain stu-
dents would receive if they lived
in some sort of home, while away
from home, should become Uni-
versity policy. So students went to
live in homes and boarding houses,
while the University, as Tappan
noted, was able to convert former
dormitories into classes without
adding any buildings.
Students at that time regreted
leaving the dormitories (into
which they occasionally brought
cows and other animals) for pri-
vate homes, which were more
The need for University housing,
or the desireability of residence
halls was apparently not discussed
until women entered the Univer-
sity in 1870. However, nothing was
done to provide such housing until
the 1920's. At that time too, Ann
Arbor and the University were
small enough so that private hous-
ing was available in sufficient
quantities, and anomie was un-
heard of and possibly nonexistent.
During pre- and post-world war
II days, enrollment began to
bound, and under the "Michigan
House Plan," students were living
in half a dozen dormitories. It is
known that at this time the resi-
dential college idea was espoused
in some degree.
Assistant Dean Burton Thuma
of the literary college, director of
the residential college, recalls that
at that time someone proposed
such a college, to be located on
the edge of town, but Thuma and
other administrators were very
Today the University has 30,000
students and like the rest of the
country it plans for the future in
leaps and bounds, using enroll-
ment figures like 40,000 in ten.
years, 50,000 in 20. The effects of
such size on education have had
educators worried for some time.
For example, at least since the
early sixties, faculty members in
the literary college have expressed
concern over increases in size
there and called for a halt in its
expansion. Some feel the problems
of the literary college, by far the
largest of the University's colleges,
are but the concerns all colleges
will have when they reach its size.
Since the literary college is
representative and an important
member of undergraduate colleges
across the nation that send stu-
dents /to graduate schools, Uni-
versity-wide attention is focused
on how successful the literary
college will be in meeting growth
Thuma, now the residential col-
lege's strongest supporter, sees
change as necessitated by inevit-
able growth. He sees administra-
tive burdens, and lessening par-
ticipation by faculty and staff as
indications that some changes
must be made.
There are faculty supporters who
see the college as a revolution in
teaching, and others who condemn
it as a flop from the start. Thuma
is convinced it may be a good
solution to growth problems, and
will provide an unequalled oppor-

originally estimated the cost of
this at $16 million. This the ad-s
ministration had trimmed to $12.71
Thuma says there was some un-
happiness on the committee be-
cause of this, but "we could have
lived with it." Then the Regents1
presented their conditions:1
1) No differential tuition can
be charged (higher tuition for+
being in the residential college);
2) Room and board rates musta
be compatible with those of other
3) The cost of academic space
in housing units should not be
borne by student housing costs.
It is now estimated that these,
changes will take 3.15 million from
the cost of the buildings. After'
the Regents meeting architects
came up with changes incorporat-
ing these cuts.
The faculty planning committee
rejected these changes as unac-
ceptable, because "so many fea-
tures of the residential college
that the committee deems essen-
u tial have perforce been eliminated.
The committee hoped for some
kind of compromise, where some
funds could be put back into the
college. They objected to some of
the changes, like the proposal to
of the Huron River near North have separate classroom-faculty
ence halls and classrooms to be buildings instead of one, as threat-
nts from the Residential College. ening the success of the college.
major one remained-the Regents' This leaves as sources of funds
condition. other University monies and the
This condition is about the state legislature. The entire Uni-
problem the University has faced versity has been concerned that
since it was a Catholepistemiad- the residential college would take
money. funds from needed projects, so
Building that source is limited.
The faculty committee has am- As for the legislature, while the
bitious plans for residence-class- Catholepistemiad had no legisla-
room buildings, and a classroom- ture to turn to, the University is
office building, to be followed by now faced with an often hostile
library, science, gymnasium and group of legislators. Although the
other buildings. The administra- legislature did provide money for
tion, concerned with funds, has a preliminary survey, support from
wanted to know the minimum that that corner seems limited at best.
could be built, anticipating ,a pos- Administrators and faculty are
sibility that no future buildings seeking some kind of solution. It
could be afforded for as many as has been reported that if the pro-
10 years. posed revisions are accepted,
The committee says the mini- members of the faculty committee
mum would be residence buildings would resign. This would be a
for the college's 1200 students and great blow to the program, and
a classroom-office building. They officials are trying to avoid it.

The faculty had planned to in-
clude many minor extras that may
be sacrificed in the proposed re-
vision. There include a snack bar,
a book store concession, basement
game rooms, informal recreation
areas, a fishbowl area and special
kitchen and dining facilities for
proposed language houses.
The faculty fears that some
economizing moves, such as cut-
ting down on the amount of base-
ment space to be excavated, are
shortsighted because if the money
ever becomes available nothing
can be done to correct them.
Yet the University is definitely
committed to a residential college,
and should begin selecting its first
students, the class of 1971, this

ponents feel will at least provide
quality education, and might be
the answer to growth problems.
The residential college might one
day give birth to a whole family
of residential colleges.
The residential college may be
nothing more than a recognition
that human relationships form
important parts of education. Per-
haps in the future, as televisions
and tape recorders and devices of
all sorts take those personal
touches from education, little
residential colleges may remain to
remind us that education is hu-
man and nut merely technical.
If the combination of residence
halls and classes means nothing
more than being able to run up-
stairs from class to change clothes,
it may keep multiversities human.

It's an experiment

that pro-I

Campus, is the proposed sight of the new Residential College. Resid
built on the site will provide housing and classrooms for 1200 studer

tunity for experimentation in
undergraduate education.t
Thuma and others state thet
problem as one stemming "from a7
kind of centralization of under-t
graduate education that was more'
appropriate to small colleges of
several decades ago than largef
universities of today." Their solu-
tion: "decentralization in those
aspects of undergraduate lifet
where interaction between stu-
dents and faculty and between1
students themselves affect the
learning process, while exploiting
the advantages of centralized fa-
This experiment in education is,
not limited to the University, how-s
ever. Decentralization is quickly
becoming the thing to find for all
universities. The "multiversities"
of Michigan State, Rutgers, Flor-
ida State and California at Santa
Cruz, to name a few are all look-
ing for that "dash of small college
As part of their background,
members of the Residential Col-
lege Faculty Planning Committee
visited several experimental col-
leges. Thuma says that one of
these, Raymond College of the
University of the Pacific, is "clos-
est to what we're trying to do,",
since it is "really a separate col-
lege with its own classrooms and
The University began to actively
study the residential college idea
in 1962, when a committee under
former Vice-President for Aca-
demic Affairs Roger Heyns was
formed. Late in 1963 the literary
college faculty approved by a nar-
row margin the committee's re-
port advocating the "principle of
the residential college."
A faculty planning committee
was set up and by March, 1964, it
submitted a concrete proposal for
the construction of the college,
which 175 faculty members then
approved by a 2:1 vote. The proj-
ect, with the opening date set for
sometime in 1965, was then passed
by the Regents and went to the
administration for submission as
part of the University's budget
North Campus
In October, 1964, the faculty

planning committee recommended
that the college begin in the fall
of 1966. The Regents, however,
then set the date for the fall of
1967, with dormitories on North
But delays were in store. Plan-
ning the college has not been
easy, and has involved some time-
consuming delays. Thuma an-
nounced last year that the college
might be delayed until 1968.
He said the delay was caused
because "Planning has reached a
plateau. The architects cannot de-
cide until they know what is need-
ed, the planners cannot decide
what is needed until they decide
what courses to offer." This was
quite a stumbling block for a
while until a curriculum was set.
Differences with the administra-
tion were apparently settled, and
the plans were ready for action by
the Regents.
In an historic meeting last
April, the Regents approved plans
for a residential college beginning
with housing in temporary quar-
ters in East Quad in 1967, moving
to North Campus in 1969.
But the Regents approval was
conditional. The story of the plan-
ning of the residential college 'has
been one of faculty enthusiasm
often clouded by doubts of sup-
port and lack of guidelines. At the
time this section went to press,
one question, seemingly the final

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